Next in line was Aaron Parks' Little Big, an intriguing mix of jazz, pop, rock and ambient wrapped in multiple layers with ample dynamic content. With the MG1000, the sound tended more towards what we know and expect from our Audio Note Meishu on Western Electric 300B valves. There was enough if tempered sparkle on top while a slightly elevated lower midrange and bass resulted in a laid-back relaxed very pleasant sonic atmosphere.
To assess the amplifier with a more stomping signal, we cued up Ibrahim Maalouf's Live Tracks 2006/2016 in the 24-bit version. Many tracks of this compilation involve audience participation which makes for plenty of cues on the actual venue. The Japanese class D set conveyed the impression of seats an extra few rows back from our usual perches closer to the stage. It gave us the impression of aurally observing what went on from further away to give up some depth. The soundstage was still wide and high but not as deep as with other system configurations and nCore amplification.
Then it was time for big orchestral with The Rite of Spring streaming from Tidal in its Philadelphia Orchestra version with Riccardo Muti at the helm. Again we were engulfed in a warm wide and high bed of sound. To stay with the bedroom imagery, a water bed makes for a very liquid and buoyant experience. As we played lots of vinyl recently, we now switched from a streaming source located somewhere in the world to a vinyl source spinning very close.
Our Dr. Feickert Blackbird turntable with Zu DL103 cartridge connected to a Trafomatic Reference Phono One which hit the SPEC input selector. Now Eduardo Mata did the honors conducting the Rite of Springs with the London Symphony Orchestra recorded and pressed to vinyl in 1979. Though not factual, it almost seemed as though the MG1000 sensed that they now were offered material from the full analog realm to comfortably become part of it. The magic trinity of vinyl⇒tubes⇒horns was restored even if the tube part had become high-frequency switching transistors. True, the soundstage was not as capaciously deep as with other amplifiers. But our virtual seat perspective somewhat more toward the back allowed for a more homogenous aural view on the stage. There was no need to look from left to right and back to see the orchestra members do their jobs. We overviewed the panorama in full.
Horns can be and are quite in your face with their directness and directivity. Now they were tamed down with care. These findings begged for a little experiment with the neutral/sophisticated switch. Flipping it did make a sonic difference. To our ears sophistication brightened things up in subtle ways. In our first context this was a bit too much but perhaps another loudspeaker could take advantage of it? We were to find out soon.
Other LPs we really enjoyed were Eric Vaarzon Morel & Chanela's Flamenco de Hoy, Pedro Soler and Gaspar Claus's Al Viento and Vincent Peirani Living Being II's Night Walker. With three other turntables on hand all sporting different cartridges like an Ortofon 2MRed MM, Ortofon 2MBronze MC mounted to a Takumi turntable and a Benz Ruby Open Air 2 on a Holbo next to another phono stage by way of a Gold Note PH-10 with PSU-10 power supply, we had plenty of ways to probe the amplifiers.
Differences from changing analogue sources were clear and the possibilities plentiful as each turntable could be matched with multiple phono amps. Overall the conclusion at this point was that the RPA-MG1000 belonged into the top tier of the class D playground – if you knew that you were dealing with a class D design. With eyes closed and no prior knowledge, it simultaneously belonged into the top tube amplifier league. We had multiple prior occasions to play Audio Note UK's Ongaku in our room with these same Avantgarde speakers and as you might have guessed by now, we'd favor the MG1000. But there was more.